Pablo Picasso. Graphics and ceramics.
A shocking, mind-blowing, acrobatic man and artist of his time, he embodies the virtues and vices of his era, always careful
to look beyond the novelty and the opportunity that his fervent creativity presented to his inspired intellect.
It is difficult to imagine how Picasso’s many artistic lives were lived in a single individual and at such a complex time, which his healthy and endemic spirit of curiosity and versatility allowed him to manifest in his creations.
The portrait in verse by Guillaume Apollinaire in 1905 sheds some light on this: “… He comes from far away, from the brutal splendour of seventeenth-century Spanish compositions and decor…” He is a man of the past with a modern spirit.
Picasso had pursued interests besides painting in the early stages of his artistic career. In fact, during his return to Barcelona at the turn of the century, the seeds of another expressive form, that of etching, had taken hold in him. Picasso’s first attempts at etching are reported to have been at the instigation of his friend Ricardo Canals, the Catalan painter who challenged him to try his hand making etchings with acid on a copper plate, and taught him the basics of etching. At this time Picasso was still in search of his artistic identity. One thing is certain: this approach was a foreshadowing of very intense activity in the field of etching which, from its beginning intrigued and excited the artist with the opportunities it offered to experiment with different techniques and materials and the ability to manipulate and achieve extraordinary results.
Picasso’s introduction to clay cannot be described as a brilliant encounter, but for the artist, working with mother earth meant going back to the beginning, reading the history of civilization, becoming a child again. The childlike joy and happiness turned into fascination and enthusiasm for the use of the material, painting it, and shaping its curved surfaces, so that the image almost broke away from the representation to follow the curvature of the surface. With the time and creativity that so characterize him, Picasso investigated the possibilities of this new artistic language by integrating and alternating form and decoration, using the sculptural quality of the earth combined with the pictorial to create almost illusionistic effects (whereby the shape of a vase follows the silhouette of the female figure, the moulding of a vase takes the forms of imaginary animals, a dish becomes a portrait of fauns and mythological figures, etc.).